Last Update on June 18, 2013 07:36 GMT
TOKYO (AP) -- Jitters over a possible change in U.S. stimulus efforts by the Federal Reserve helped pull share prices mostly lower in Asian trading today.
Shares had climbed on growing expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will maintain its current policy stance when policymakers meet this week. But that optimism appears to be wavering.
Markets have gyrated in recent weeks on worries the Fed might choose to start cutting back on the volume of its financial asset purchases, which are intended to encourage spending and investment by helping to keep interest rates low.
Oil prices rose to near $98 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve policymakers begin a meeting to set interest rates. But it's a two-day meeting, so there's no statement of fresh economic forecast until tomorrow afternoon.
There are two economic reports out this morning. The Labor Department releases its Consumer Price Index for May, and the Commerce Department releases data on housing starts in May.
Consumer prices were down 0.4 percent in April, and largely unchanged once fuel costs were factored out. Low inflation has allowed the Fed to continue its efforts to stimulate the economy.
Meanwhile, housing has been an increasingly bright spot for the economy in recent months. U.S. builders broke ground on few homes in April, but that was mostly due to a decline in apartment construction, which tends to vary sharply from month to month. At the same time, applications for new construction surged 14 percent -- a good sign for future activity.
ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland (AP) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron says the "point is to fire up our economies and drive growth and prosperity around the world." To that end, the European Union and the United States will open negotiations next month on a free trade deal between the world's two mightiest economic regions.
At stake is a vision of boosting the value of trans-Atlantic trade that President Barack Obama said already exceeds $1 trillion annually, as well as $4 trillion annually in investment in each other's economies. EU and U.S. leaders agreed at the start of the Group of Eight summit yesterday in Northern Ireland that those colossal trade figures could be much higher if both sides agree to dismantle high tariff walls and bureaucratic hurdles that undermine the export of many products.
Cameron says a tariff- and barrier-free trade environment could generate an extra $150 billion annually for the 27-nation European Union, perhaps $120 billion for the United States, and provide a similar growth jolt for the rest of the world. He says that would translate to: "2 million extra jobs, more choice and lower prices in our shops."
DETROIT (AP) -- Chrysler is expected to file papers Tuesday explaining its refusal to recall 2.7 million older Jeep SUVs.
The U.S. government asked Chrysler earlier this month to recall Grand Cherokees and Libertys because the position of the fuel tank leaves it susceptible to rupture in a rear-end crash. The ruptured tank can spill gasoline, which can ignite if an ignition source is present.
The agency says 51 people have been killed in accidents involving the older Jeeps.
But on June 4, Chrysler publicly rejected the recall, saying the Jeeps are safe and the government is creating a new standard for gas tank strength.
Tuesday is the deadline for Chrysler to file its formal response to the government's request.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Netflix's deal to air original television programming from Dreamworks Animation represents a major coup for both companies.
Though financial details have not been disclosed, Netflix says the multi-year agreement announced is its biggest deal ever for original first-run content. It includes more than 300 hours of new TV episodes in a multi-year deal starting in 2014.
The transaction helps Netflix compete with pay TV channels such as HBO and Showtime, while giving Dreamworks a potentially lucrative outlet for its shows as it tries to shed its reliance on two or three big-budget movies each year.
Investors hailed the deal as a win-win. Netflix shares rose $15.70, or 7.3 percent, to close at $229.69 on Monday. DreamWorks shares rose 92 cents, or 4 percent, to close at $23.73.
CHICAGO (AP) -- Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation giving the state the nation's strictest regulations for high-volume oil and gas drilling.
In a news release, Quinn's office says the governor signed the bill Monday. Quinn says the law will "unlock the potential" for thousands of jobs in southern Illinois while protecting the environment.
Quinn's signature was expected after the measure sailed through the Illinois Legislature.
The process called "fracking" probably won't begin in earnest in the state until next year because the Department of Natural Resources must adopt rules to mirror the regulations and hire dozens of new engineers, inspectors and regulators.
The law was crafted with the help of industry and some environmental groups. The unusual collaboration has been touted as a potential model for other states.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House is threatening to veto the House version of a massive, 5-year farm bill, saying food stamp cuts included in the legislation could leave some Americans hungry.
The House is preparing to consider the bill this week. The legislation would cut $2 billion annually from food stamps and make it harder for some people to qualify for the program. That is around 3 percent of current spending.
The Obama administration said in a statement that food stamps are "a cornerstone of our nation's food assistance safety net." The White House argued that the House should make deeper cuts to farm subsidies like crop insurance instead. The bill, which costs nearly $100 billion a year, would save a total of about $4 billion annually, including the food stamp cuts.
NEW YORK (AP) -- A former intern has filed a class-action lawsuit against Warner Music Group and Atlantic Records over his unpaid internship.
The suit was filed Monday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Plaintiff Justin Henry says he was never paid for the office work he performed from October 2007 through May 2008 but should have been under state labor law.
The suit alleges there was no academic or vocational training as part of the internship, and that employees would have needed to be hired to do the work if Henry wasn't doing it for free.
Atlantic is part of Warner Music Group. Warner declined to comment on pending litigation.
One federal judge has already ruled for the plaintiffs in a case against Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Similar lawsuits over unpaid internships have been filed in other industries.